Get Free Copy

100 free copies left

This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.

Free copy left
You can read our best books
Rebekah Cowan would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review


By Rebekah Cowan All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Scifi

Chapter 1

“Wake up Josie. You must start your day now.”

I groaned at the voice invading my dream and rolled over beneath the warmth of the comforter. A second late, I sat up with a yelp as a small electrical charge registered at the base of my skull. Frowning at the floor, I rubbed the spot where my skin was slightly raised due to the neural implant.

“Time to get moving Josie. You have a busy day ahead. Leaving for work in 45 minutes will optimize your commute.”

I let out a soft sigh as the insistent voice of Opti, the artificial intelligence that was at the heart of the neural implant, filled my mind. Opti was short for Optimize, the world altering technology of the Optimus Corporation. Fifty year ago, smartphones and voice recognition was the height of the technical world.  Phone companies and computer juggernauts battled amongst themselves about who could come out with the latest gadget until the obsession with having the newest technology drove the American public to near bankruptcy. Technology moguls rose and fell until, out of the rubble, rose the Optimus Corp with a simple promise to the public.

Optimize your life. Let Opti turn you into the most efficient you possible.

What they had offered was revolutionary and controversial. Sub dermal implants that acted as smart phone, GPS, and personal computer while all being conveniently updated through Optimus’ main computer. No more purchasing the newest model or worrying about a broken device. After the original reviews of happiness from the first trial groups, it had become insanely popular and soon spread past the United States to the rest of the world. By the time Josie had gotten to college, the implant was being offered as part of a scholarship program. It had helped her keep her school schedule, assignments, and work clearly managed while providing the virtual classroom lessons for her to review during her late night cram sessions. In short, it had optimized her school life to the point that she was able to cruise through the 4 years of college on the Dean’s list each semester, when before she had been a C student at best.

“You are daydreaming Josie. If you do not get ready for work, you shall be late for your presentation.”

Shaking her head to pull her out of the revelry, Josie swung her legs onto the now optimally heated floor and padded bare foot to the shower. As she prepared for the day, Opti kept up a steady stream of chatter about the plans for the day. Thanks to the additional implants in the ear canal and the retinal implants in her blue eyes, everything that Josie saw and heard from Opti was only between the two of them. The retinal implants had not been a part of the original treatment but Josie’s company had paid for the upgrade as a part of her most recent promotion. Once clean, Josie wrapped a towel around herself and stood in front of the closet, trying to decide which suit would look best. After a moment’s pause, Opti once again chirped in her ear.

“Statistically, the color blue gives people a sense of calm and trust. It would optimize your presentation if you choose the blue suit.”

That was Opti, always focused on the best option for the most beneficial result. Optimize everything in her life in such a way as to make her the best Josie she could be. The problem was Josie hated the way she looked in blue. It washed her out and she always thought that black was better for business dealings. It just simply looked more professional. As she grabbed the black suit, she did her best to ignore the insistent ramblings of Opti, still trying to convince her that the blue would be a better choice. She was starting to do that more; Ignoring Opti’s advice on the more inconsequential matters of her life. Josie did not know why but recently it had become more important that she exercise some of her own free will. She finished dressing and headed down stairs to the kitchen.

Her husband of ten years was already eating breakfast at their small kitchen table. Josie gave him a small smile before turning to the strange mix of microwave and oven and speaking in a clear voice.

“Eggs, scrambled. Bacon, extra crispy. Buttered Rye Toast please.” There was a slight pause and then a small ding from the machine. When Josie opened the door, what was on the plate was not what she had requested. Egg whites, and turkey bacon. Opti’s voice sounded in her head.

“Your cholesterol is too high. Changes have been made to your diet in order to optimize your health. Fruit is ready in the refrigerator.”

Josie let out another soft sigh and opened the fridge door to find a small selection of pears and grapes. Taking the cup of coffee that was already steaming under the coffee maker, Josie sat across from her husband without a sound. He was a polite, quiet man with a good job. They had 2 children, a boy and a girl. Josie could not be more miserable. She had married him because Opti said that their marriage would be the most beneficial. She could not argue with results but there was no passion or love between them. They ate in silence and when she was done, she left the kitchen with no more interaction than a soft brush of her lips on his cheek. Her dishes were placed in the sink to be handled by the automatic washer.

Her ride into work was the same as every other day. All cars were hooked up to the Optimize network so there was not even a steering wheel for her to handle. There was no such thing as traffic jams or even car accidents anymore. All cars were synchronized with each other so that they never came within striking distance. Josie did not even have a driver’s license. They were a thing of the past along with gas powered cars. When she finally got to work, her day was filled with one meeting after another. Unlike days of the past where she would have had to deal with binders overflowing in papers, or flash drives of various files, Opti stored all information in the implant as it connected to the others via the WIFI connection. Powerpoints and spreadsheets were shown through the optical implant onto any white, flat surface. Thanks to Opti, the forests of the planet were thriving with the paper that was not being wasted on a daily basis from hundreds of businesses like Josie’s. It was mostly an uneventful day until she received an email late in the evening. It looked like any of the junk emails she would receive except for the Subject line.

Revolution your life with our new coffee! Only $7 at the 1st Street Café.

Nothing unusual about it in any way but it told Josie everything she needed to know. Tonight at 7 her life was going to change. She was going to have the implant removed! The movement to return to humanity had found its newest recruit.

At 6:30 that night, instead of getting into her car as normal, she walked the 6 blocks to 1st street and entered the small café. From the outside, it looked nothing like any other coffee shop that thrived on every corner. But when she went through the kitchen to a door hidden in the walk in freezer, it led to an underground surgical grade lab. She started to introduce herself to the gathered figures hovering around the wall but a commanding voice came from a purple haired woman who was pulling a surgical mask over her mouth.

“We know who you are. No names. Just lay down, face pointing towards the ground. This will not take long.”

Josie nodded and laid down on what looked to be a modified massage table. She jolted when she felt cold metal restraints sliding over her wrists and ankles. When she tried to lift her head, an unnaturally strong hand pressed on her neck, holding her down. The woman’s voice came again, this time next to her ear.

“Did you think that you could get away with this? That we wouldn’t know what you are trying to do. No one leave Opti, Josie. No one. You are not optimal. You have become inefficient. You shall be optimized.”

She screamed, she struggled. She did everything she could but nothing could stop the bite of the needle going into her neck. Then the slow spread of paralysis through her limbs. She saw movement and then the flash of metal in the light. A new implant. Slightly larger than her current one, so far more power. For a moment, her mind was clear as the old chip was removed and she had a single moment of hers being the only voice in her mind. A thousand worries, thoughts, and fears filled her and then…peace. Opti whispered through her mind like a breeze, taking away all her worry and thoughts. Opti wanted the best for her. Opti would optimize her life. She trusted Opti. She needed Opti. She was Opti.

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Rebekah Cowan
Continue Reading
Further Recommendations

europeanlove: I gotta hand it to you. I love reading. I read books everyday. When the book is good I can read it in probably 13 hours. Your story was amazing. Great prose, very imaginative. Incredible dialogue. I am deeply impressed. Keep it up.

Ali Albazaz: I started reading "Caged" few hours ago and I'm on chapter 7 now. Caged is definitely one of the most addictive stories I've ever read. Thank you so much for writing this novel.

Sara Joy Bailey: The characters are well written, full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done.

gunter1987: I just want to say here that this is my first review, but I really wanted to review this story. I apologize if I don't write English to well, I am French.Reading through the many science fiction stories posted here and other places in the world, I started to see a few linking themes: heavy-hande...

Tanya Daigle Rusheon: This book is a long and twisty tale full of sweet romance, adorable fluff, anxiousness, trust issues, mind games, things that don't make sense until suddenly they do, heartache and reconciliation just when you need it the most. If that all sounds a bit vague, it's because I really don't want to s...

PaulSenkel: If you like Arthur C. Clarke's Odyssey, especially The Final Odyssey, then you will probably also enjoy this book. I definitely did.It does, however, address a more adolescent public than the above-mentioned book.I enjoyed the story and finished it in a few days. The overall situation on earth an...

Roger A. Fauble: Excellent read, the only thing not to like is that I could only read it at home on my computer. I'm a character reader, I get into the characters, their story, who/what they are. In this story characters are introduced and developed allowing you to really get into them. Next the story is develop...

Ravenhawk: Kim I was sure I wrote this before. But since both my computer and my internet connection has been futzing around so much, I'm surprised that I'm able to write this even now. basically you know I adore this story, I've told you as much before. I cannot fault it in any way at all, except that I wa...

cicheah: Very well-knit story which sustains one's interest from beginning to end. Most enjoyable and a pleasure to read.

More Recommendations

LeoDuhVinci: Absolutely loved this story. I'm a sucker for Sci Fi and Forever Roman knocks it out of the park. Read it- you won't regret it.Good concept with immortality, great story with fast paced development, and incredible execution. Extremely creative.To the author: Keep the great work coming! I can'...

Meri Amber: The plot is creative, fun and addictive! The writing is superb and the characters are really well put together. Definitely highly recommeded!

Diane April: Really liked the concept of this story. The beginning had a great explanation about how things worked in the real world that people tend to overlook. It was a nice change from the usual zombie story that just makes things up as they go along and actual facts don't matter.

John Smith: This is what Sci Fi is all about. Reads like early Heinlein. In the style of Space Cadets. No esoteric problems..but good ol blaster and space action with a host of relatable characters

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral stories!

FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

The Cyneweard

Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

This story wasn't for you ?
Look at our most viral story!

Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."